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Data Gathered From Indiana Tornadoes Could Predict Storms

Data gathered during last week's storms could help IU researchers understand the conditions that lead to severe storms.

  • Map of tornado

    Image 1 of 2

    Photo: Courtesy of Indiana University

    A map shows the path of Friday's tornado and where seismic measuring stations were placed.

  • graphic of seismic levels

    Image 2 of 2

    Photo: Courtesy of Indiana University

    A graph measuring seismic activity shows bumps prior to Friday's tornadoes.

Indiana University researchers say unusual seismic activity in the same area of the state hit by tornadoes a week ago may help them better predict when and where severe storms will strike.

Last Friday, IU seismologists watched closely the readings they got back from equipment they had installed in some of the same areas where tornadoes struck, until those readings stopped.

“Initially we were concerned that the tornado may have damaged some of our instruments, and when we checked the recordings online, we discovered to our pleasant surprise that the instruments were not damaged they were still working,” IU Geological Sciences Professor Michael Hamburger says.

He says the resulting findings may indicate the same sorts of conditions can accompany both tornadoes and earthquakes.

“Our preliminary interpretation suggests that these maybe associated with large changes in atmospheric pressure that are associated with the storm front moving through the area,” he says.

However, Hamburger stresses the correlation between the phenomena have not been confirmed.

“We’re recognizing that this new class of observations might help us understand the dynamics of these large pressure gradient that in turn trigger tornadoes,” he says.

Researchers had installed the seismometers in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky last summer. Hamburger says meteorologists have been brought in to help further analyze the data .

Shameka Neely

Shameka Neely, a native of Nashville, Tennessee enthusiastically joined WTIU as Senior Reporter/ InFocus Producer in the news department. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational and Corporate Communication, with a minor in Marketing and Masters of Arts Degrees' in Administrative Dynamics and Communication all from Western Kentucky University. Shameka also holds a Master of Arts degree in Journalism from Indiana University.

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